Inspired by Experimental Film and Science, Danish Artist Thorsten Kirchhoff Defies Reality

Danish artist Thorsten Kirchhoff works across media in painting, sculpture, installation, and film, drawing heavily from cinematic history, science fiction, and popular culture. His works explore the nature of two-dimensionality as it relates to film, reality, and image-making, and he often pushes or pulls his paintings—which take film stills or photographs as their basis—into three dimensional,  sculptural forms. This action forces the viewer to physically interact with the medium of film in their own space, emphasizing the barrage of fabricated narrative elements that infiltrate popular culture and are constantly consumed by the public.

Kirchhoff’s practice generally revolves around black-and-white or duotone paintings, presented both traditionally, on canvas or panel, as well as applied to sculptural forms such as carpets or Legos. His current project “Autoreverse,” on view at Montoro12 Contemporary Art in Rome, is based on a thought experiment known as “Schrodinger’s cat,” which questions how, according to quantum mechanics, a thing can both exist and not exist. Realistic, figurative paintings depicting cult icons, such as Kurt Cobain, are layered over the surfaces of unconventional materials, including cocktail umbrellas and fire extinguishers, and tongue-in-cheek sculptures present feet poking out under a stage curtain, or opposing mirrors that create an endless vortex.

Kirchhoff’s past works have mined imagery from historically iconic films including Blow Up (1966) by Michelangelo Antonioni and Hitchcock’s Lifeboat (1944), as well as his own shorts such as Overdrive (2011). In the Kafkaesque Overdrive, the idea of a man-car hybrid is developed, drawing on cyberpunk themes of body modification through technology as well as the fetishization of industry, a theme that speaks to the work of contemporaries including Matthew Barney and Richard Prince. This interest in hybrid forms repeats often in Kirchhoff’s work, both in the clash of traditional painting applied to three dimensional forms, as well as as in a more subtle, continued exploration of the the human body in relation to its environment.

—K. Sundberg

Autoreverse” is on view at Montoro12 Contemporary Art, Rome, Nov. 19–Dec. 24, 2014.

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